Doctor BA Answers Email Questions

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Apr 29, 2018
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It looked like it would be a while before I would get to see Doctor BA as I was on assignment in Singapore and Doctor BA was somewhere in the Alps. So as not to lose touch with him, I asked him some of the questions I received using email. Doctor BA didn’t use Twitter which he said was “for the birds”. I didn’t want to argue the point.

Doctor BA didn’t tell me what he is doing in the Alps, but I have the feeling from his responses that he might be on some kind of skiing vacation.

User interface analysis as part of business analyst job

Gennypher, a business analyst from Canada asks:
Should a Business analyst be doing user interface design work or any other aspect of user interface design?

Doctor BA writes:

“Consider one definition of the business analyst as the business facing member of the solution team/ Then consider that user experience, being part of the solution and always being business facing, would then be considered business analysis and therefore should be part of business analyst’s work. Of course there may be some contention as to whether a user experience analyst is a sub set of business analysis. The UXAs might consider it the other way around. However, I may be biased in thinking that practically everything is a subset of business analysis.”

Transition requirements

Another question refers to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK).

Juan D from Barcelona, Spain, asks about transition requirements.

I just read about transition requirements in the BABOK. Are they always necessary? What if there is no existing system or the new solution is adding an entirely new capability to the organization rather than enhancing or modifying an existing system? There would not be any transition from old system to new, right? And no need for transition requirements?

Doctor BA answers thusly:

“Whenever there is a change, there is a transition of some kind - a transition from old (before the change) to new (after the change). There may not be as many specific requirements, but there is at least a requirement for time to get used to the new and for some form of training - it may not be formal - for the users to become familiar with the new."

“In truth, we are always in transition. I am still transitioning. Of course, sometimes I don’t know what I am transitioning from or to which is why some transition requirements might be helpful to map the way. Especially to get from one slope to another and then transition back to the lodge."

"In terms of the specific situation of no existing system, how is the capability being done now? What did the people who are using the new capability do before the new capability is added to their job? Why was the new capability added in the first place? Answer these questions, and you might see what kind of transition requirements are necessary."

Unresponsive Stakeholder

The next question came from a fellow who was experiencing a specific problem as a business analyst. I have omitted some of the background and paraphrased the question. This is part of a question from Venkatesh B from Hyperabad, India:

I am dealing with a somewhat unresponsive stakeholder. What would be your way of convincing him?

Doctor BA’s answer

"First of all, I am not sure what is meant by ‘unresponsive’ although it sounds like the stakeholder might be unresponsive to the argument that the business analyst is putting forward, or in other words, the stakeholder does not agree with the business analyst.

What would you be convincing the stakeholder of? As a business analyst your relationship with the stakeholders is to obtain information from them to define and solve a business problem. Typically, in true problem solving mode, you develop multiple alternate solutions. You may recommend one of the alternates, but in the end, the decision is that of the business stakeholder. You don't "convince" them of anything.

If the problem is that the stakeholder is not responding at all, that's another question and first of all I would check the stakeholder’s pulse. In all cases a strong cup of coffee will do wonders to get responses."

Managing stakeholders

The final question I submitted to Doctor BA over the two to three week period appears to be an interview question that many people might have run into., This one came from Robby B from East Hartford, Connecticut, US. He asks:

A question I got recently had me wondering. Do you have an answer to this: how do you manage the stakeholders?

Doctor BA’s responded in this way:

"Perhaps the question was asked as a "false positive" question? That is, a question for which no answer is good because the question is misleading. Or simply said, a "trick question".

For example, why would you want to "manage" a stakeholder? Business analysis stakeholders typically come from the business side so they have their own "managers" to manage them. And if the questioner is thinking of ‘manage’ in the sense of ‘manipulate; then it might be a question you might decline to answer. If asked this question, my inclination would be to return the question with "what do you mean by 'manage'?

Remember that business analysts have no authority so ‘managing’ people does not typically fall under their auspices, other than managing other business analysts, and then they would not be playing the role of business analyst, but rather the role of business analyst manager. And that is another question entirely.
Now if the question is short hand for “manage the expectations of the stakeholders”, that is a different question entirely and one that surely could be brought up another day when the snow has melted."


Author: Steve Blais, PMP, PMI-PBA

Steve Blais, PMP, PMI-PBA, is an author, consultant, teacher and coach who has nearly 50 years’ experience in Information Technologies working as a programmer, project manager, business analyst, system analyst, general manager, and tester. He has also been in an executive position for several start-up companies. He develops business analysis and agile processes and trains business analysts, project managers, and executive for organizations around the world. He is the author of Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success (John Wiley, 2011) and co-author of Business Analysis for Practitioners: a Practice Guide (PMI, 2014) and a contributor to the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge, V3 (IIBA, 2015).

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